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How 3D Laser Scanning Benefits Industrial Plants

How 3D Laser Scanning Benefits Industrial Plants

How 3D Laser Scanning Benefits Industrial Plants
The best and most practical applications for 3D laser scanning are industrial operations. With its precision, this technology enables engineers to prevent conflicts that would only have been discovered in the construction phase in the past by correctly mapping MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) and structural components. Industrial facilities that use 3D scanning are far better than traditional techniques. 3D scanning, with its time-saving capabilities, is the most comprehensive method to as-built these facilities because of its accuracy, time savings, and, most importantly, safety.

What is 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning, also known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), is a technology that uses laser beams to capture detailed, three-dimensional representations of physical environments. The scanner emits laser pulses that bounce off surfaces and return to the device, measuring distances with high accuracy. The collected data points create a precise digital model of the scanned area, known as a point cloud.

3D Laser Scanning for industrial plants examples:

  1. Mine processing
  2. Chemical Plants
  3. Nuclear Power Generation
  4. Coal Power Generation
  5. Gas Turbine Power Generation
  6. Automotive
  7. Refineries
  8. Pulp and Paper Mills
  9. Agricultural Processing
  10. Phosphate

How 3D Laser Scanning Benefits Production Plants?

This blog summarizes the economic benefits of applying 3D laser scanning technologies to industrial plants’ design, construction, and operation.

1. Risk mitigation

There are rogue projects in every industry where the lack of proper dimensions control processes or insufficient or inaccurate as-built documentation has caused the cost, schedule, or safety to spiral out of control. In brownfield projects, when energy densities are high, site access is costly or challenging, modular design and fabrication techniques are used, project timetables involve acute sensitivity, and laser scanning workflows are advantageous in lowering project risk.

2. Cost and schedule reduction

Compared to traditional survey methods, laser scanning has decreased contingencies for rework to less than 2% and lowered the total installation cost for brownfield projects by 5-7%. These results are noteworthy for their consistency and magnitude throughout various projects. When 3D laser scanning is utilised, schedule compression of up to 10% has been documented. In industries such as nuclear power generation, where outage time costs $1 million per day and offshore platform repair output values surpass 500,000 per day, such savings pale compared to data collecting and modelling costs.

3. Safety and regulatory compliance

Safety and Regulatory

Due to growing government oversight and regulations, owners must create and manage production assets in their as-built and as-maintained states. Laser scanning is becoming increasingly common in adhering to environmental, health, and safety regulations. In many cases, laser scanning techniques are safer than manual data-collecting techniques. 

Today’s scanning devices can sense remotely, and quick data collection implies less time spent on the job site when sufficient dimensional control guarantees bolt-up installation rather than onsite welding; onsite fabrication techniques can be employed with certainty. These procedures are safer in situations when hot work permits are needed.

4. Improved quality and other benefits

The ability to perform better simulations of asset and equipment performance for training purposes, better visualisation to coordinate multiple engineering disciplines and craft construction, better visualisation to secure project funding, more analytical and quantifiable construction monitoring, and more flexibility to accommodate scope changes are just a few of the many collateral benefits that have resulted from complete and accurate dimensional documentation based on laser scanning.

5. Modelling with process plan

3D laser scanning for industrial plants allows operators to model quickly and accurately in the point cloud, which is particularly important for conversions—for example, knowing the exact location of tie-in flanges on a pipe down to a sixteenth of an inch. Operators pick two points on the scanned pipe, and software algorithms analyze the cylinder’s shape to determine the size of the pipe run. The software then models the pipe using predefined specifications, converting the piping run to solids once complete.

6. Precision deployment

Scans uncover issues before maintenance teams can. For instance, scans analysed for a client revealed that fireproofing was falling off, allowing the client’s repair crew to deploy to the exact locations without manually inspecting the entire facility.

7. Large-Part inspection

Large Part Inspection

Consistent, accurate measurements are critical for maintaining plant equipment’s design intent and performance. Laser scanning provides precision measurements, minimizing user variability and eliminating rework and scrap.

Also Check: 3D Laser Scanning for the Agricultural Industry

Why isn't Everyone Doing this on Every Project?

Where is the deal? Why is 3D scanning only used for a small number of industrial plant projects?

Here are some of the constraints:

  1. Lack of awareness. There are less than 5,000 operational 3D laser scanners worldwide. Despite a recession, the market is still in its initial stages of adoption despite increasing by 25–30% over the previous five years.
  2. Perceived cost. For some projects, traditional methods are more cost-effective. The challenge is to understand when it makes sense to leap.
  3. The inertia of old ways. Changing workflows is often painful. Organizations usually need to embrace 3D and abandon familiar 2D processes to get total value for laser scanning.
  4. Integration challenges. While some of today’s plant design solutions, notably products from AVEVA, Bentley, COADE, and Intergraph, have embraced point cloud integration, many have yet to do so.

None of these challenges is insurmountable; the enhanced productivity already delivered to thousands of industrial plant capital projects worldwide testifies to the compelling value proposition of today’s 3D scanning-based workflows.


As awareness grows and more industries embrace this innovation, the future of industrial plant operations looks brighter and more streamlined than ever. For more information on how 3D laser scanning surveys can benefit your projects, visit Survey2Plan.

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